Finally! A win for Maine lobstermen
KENNEBUNK, Maine (December 20, 2022)-- Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden, and Governor Janet Mills announced that they were successful in securing a regulatory pause for Maine's lobster industry in the Omnibus funding package that is expected to pass the Senate and House this week.
Following is a statement from Patrice McCarron, Executive Director of the Maine Lobstermen's Association:
"The Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) is encouraged that Congress recognizes that the federal rulemaking process intended to protect right whales is broken. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has shunned its statutory obligations and based its current, unlawful plan to protect right whales on a “worst case scenario” that has already harmed, and could eventually eliminate, Maine’s multi-generational lobstering heritage while doing nothing to reduce the unacceptably high number of right whale deaths occurring in Canadian waters and from vessel strikes.
"Congress is providing time to allow the lobster fishery to continue to operate while a new, lawful plan—based on realistic assumptions and the best scientific and commercial information—is developed without decimating this critical industry and the coastal and island communities that depend upon it. The Maine lobster fishery is not driving the right whale population decline, and the species cannot be saved by unlawfully overregulating a fishery that, according to federal data, has never been linked with a right whale death.
"The rhetoric from national advocacy organizations claiming that this important legislation will lead to the “extinction” of the right whale is contrary to undisputed science, false, and meant to serve only their fringe interests. The right whale has persisted for decades since it was almost driven to extinction by commercial whaling and it will continue to do so while a new, lawful plan is developed that appropriately addresses the actual risks to the species.
"This legislation also secures millions of dollars of funding for much-needed scientific research that will better inform that future plan and help to ensure that this process is driven by good science rather than the political interests of national advocacy groups.
"MLA is incredibly grateful for the extraordinary efforts of the Maine delegation and Governor Mills who worked to ensure that the most sustainable fishery in the world can continue to operate and to provide time for the development of a new, lawful plan."
Donate to #SaveMaineLobstermen at: www.savemainelobstermen.org
For more than 25 years, the Maine Lobstermen’s Association has been leading the effort to keep right whales safe in the rare instance they encounter Maine lobster gear. MLA is Maine’s only statewide organization committed to the preservation of a sustainable lobster resource and the fishermen and communities that depend on it.
The MLA is engaged in a four-prong strategy to Save Maine Lobstermen AND right whales. Learn more here.
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Columns and news about the subculture of Maine lobstering.